Kochi has long been eulogized in tourist literature as the “Queen of the Arabian Sea”. The harbour is the nucleus around which Kochi has grown. The backwaters extending to the east and south from the harbour are dotted with tiny island formed naturally by alluvial deposits from the rivers.Some of these picturesque islands are Bolgatty, Vypeen, Gundu and Vallarpadom.
Half the fun of visiting Kochi is moving around on the local ferries. A conducted cruise through the winding waterways will take us to several quaint spots.
The prime attractions of Kochi backwaters are:-
Mattanchery Palace: Built by the Portuguese and presented to the Cochin Raja in 1557AD, it acquired the present name after 1663, when the Dutch carried out some extensions and repairs in the Palace. In the centre of the building is the coronation hall where the Cochin Rajas held their coronations. Today, it is a portrait gallery of the Cochin Rajas. Adjacent rooms contain 17th century murals depicting scenes from the Indian epic, the Ramayana.
Bolgatty Island: Next is the Bolgatty Palace built by Dutch in 1744.Later it became the seat of the British Resident of Cochin. Today it is a hotel run by the KTDC.The grounds has a small golf course and several vantage points for lovely views of the harbour and the sea.
Willingdon Island:- Another of Cochin’s famous islands is Willingdon Island , named after Lord Willingdon, the British Viceroy of India. It is a man-made island created from
the material dredged while deepening the Cochin Port.Siuated between Ernakulam and Mattacherry and separated by the backwaters, Willingdon Island is an important part of Cochin.
St.Franics Church, Fort Cochin:-This Protestant Church was built originally by the Portuguese in 1503AD and it is believed to be the first church built by the Europeans in India.Vasco- da- Gama was buried here. Fourteen years later, his mortal remains were taken to Portugal.
Chinese Fishing Nets:- The entrance to the Cochin Harbor is dotted by the Chinese Fishing Nets. There are large nets which hang from Bamboo or teak posts and are still used by local fishermen in Fort Cochin to catch fish attracted by the lights suspended above the net.